Kawartha World Issues Centre (KWIC) and Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre (KSAC) held the annual international women’s day community celebration at Seeds of Change on March 8. This year’s theme was “The Art of Resistance.”
The event started with a community potluck. During the potluck there was a PowerPoint with pictures and quotes about women’s rights.
After the potluck was a panel presentation. The presentation started with Kim Muskratt and Susan Smoke singing in honour of Indigenous women. They noted that it is important to “heal your own communities from the oppression and the systemic racism we are suffering from.”
Next Chief Phyllis William, who is the Chief of Curve Lake First Nation, spoke about the history of women chiefs. William noted that women motivate and celebrate each other. The importance of standing up for each other was made clear when William stated, “We have a voice, let’s use it.”
MP Maryam Monsef spoke about the global movement pushing for gender equality. She stated, “We recognize we are part of a powerful global movement that existed long before any of us were born.”
Monsef discussed the need to “acknowledge the great leaders who have come before us. Who’ve paved the path for all of us to be here, to benefit from these privileges.”
Smokii Sumac was the moderator for the panel. He read a poem called “There are Things our Women Have Taught Me” and introduced the panelists, which included Mόnica Maye, Shanese Steele and Niambi Leigh.
Maye is a pioneer in feminist art in Mexico. She initiated a project called Pinto mi Raya (I Draw the Line), which is an archive of feminist art. Steele is the Vice President of Campaigns and Equity for the Trent Central Student Association and the Social Change Coordinator for the Trent University Native Association. She expresses her resistance through body art and writing. Leigh is a Peterborough-based poet. Leigh is the current Gland Slam Champion and is part of the Peterborough Poetry Slam Team.
Maye stated, “Feminism is a struggle that has to do with the past, the present, and with the future. We have to change the narratives from the past, we have to affect the present, and then we have to leave enough information for the future, so that we are not erased again.”
The panellists discussed the role art plays in resistance. Maye noted that “feminism is about revolution in the culture,” and that because of this art can be used to make a change, as “art is an important part of culture.” Steele stated that “art is a powerful medium to inspire change.” Leigh followed by explaining that art “lends a perspective that you don’t normally get,” by getting a better understanding of other people’s lives, and what they are experiencing. Additionally, Leigh discussed the impact of art being wide reaching due to art being everywhere.
The night made the importance of intersectionality clear. The panelists discussed the need to remember who is not at the table and working to bring them into the discussion. Maye summed it up stating, “You can’t understand feminism without thinking about class and race as well.”